Posts Tagged ‘Infections’

AZ Data to Drive Public Health Interventions

October 24th, 2011

Making good decisions about prioritizing which public health issues to tackle and how to target our interventions rests on our ability to collect and analyze public health data.  For infectious disease surveillance that means have a base of solid reporting and surveillance so we can analyze infectious disease trends.  For chronic diseases, we need to know the behavioral trends and the demographic background so that we can target our resources effectively.  That’s where our annual Behavioral Risk Factor Survey plays a role… our brand new 2010 Report provides key data that can be used to monitor and plan health promotion and help our public health system to better target our intervention strategies for chronic disease prevention in Arizona. 

The (federally funded) Behavioral Risk Factor Survey is conducted throughout the year and examines the self-reported habits of 4,700 Arizonans.  The report contains key data on lifestyle risk factors contributing to the leading causes of death and chronic diseases- and measures the public health system’s progress on smoking, overweight, high blood pressure, exercise, flu/pneumonia vaccination, cholesterol, seat belt use, fruit/vegetable consumption and other risk factors.  These data give us some of the tools we need to set priorities and craft intervention strategies.  Judy Bass was the point person for this year’s report.  Well done Judy!

Guillain Barré Investigation Update

August 5th, 2011

Last month I told you about a rare cluster of Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS) along the US-Mexico border near Yuma, AZ.  Since then, we’ve identified 8 more cases for a total of 24 (7 in AZ, 17 in Sonora).  GBS is a rare condition that results in paralysis of the legs, but can sometimes affect the arms and face.  While the exact cause of GBS is not well understood, the condition usually occurs after an infection, most commonly from a diarrheal illness caused by the bacteria, Campylobacter.  Even with this association between Campylobacter and GBS, only one in 1,000 cases of Campylobacter infection develops GBS and outbreaks of GBS are extremely rare. 

 We pulled in a team of experts from county, state, and federal levels in both Arizona and Sonora to investigate this outbreak, with unprecedented collaboration on both sides of the border.  These dedicated folks have been working with the people who got sick as well as those who aren’t sick (called controls) about their exposures and risk factors – they interview healthy folks to help us identify foods or activities that are more common in sick people and may be causing infections. 

 The team interviewed over 100 people – now they are analyzing the data.  Initial signs indicate that there may have been an outbreak of diarrheal illness due to reduced water quality.  Chlorine levels have been increased throughout the water system and additional studies are being done to see if we can identify how Campylobacter may have made it into the water system.  It looks like the steps we are taking to stop the outbreak are working since we haven’t had any new cases since the beginning of July and cases of diarrhea have decreased.

Winnable Battle- Healthcare Acquired Infections

August 18th, 2010

Each year in the US there are 1.7 million health care associated infections that cause approximately 99,000 deaths in US hospitals.  There are lots of germs that can cause health care associated infections, but 16% are in the really bad category because they’re resistant to  antibiotics.  These multidrug-resistant organisms pose huge problems once they get started, which is why preventing their transmission in health care facilities so important. The germ that gets the most attention is methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)- and preventing health care MRSA infections is one of our top public health goals in AZ.

A new study this week suggests that we may be making some headway.  A new study published in JAMA found that the rates of invasive health care associated MRSA infections decreased in recent years among patients with infections that began outside and inside hospitals.

We’ve developed a Healthcare-Associated Infection (HAI) and Antibiotic Resistance resource page to help healthcare providers to develop and implement better plans to reduce healthcare associated infections.  We’re also working in various ways through our medical and long term care licensing programs and our public health programs to keep making headway on this important CDC Winnable Battle.


March 3rd, 2010

Post-surgery infections cost a fortune.  Health care–associated infections cause 1.7 million extended hospitalizations each year.  A study published last week in the Archives of Internal Medicine looked at the clinical and economic costs from these infections which are poorly understood.  The researchers looked at national hospital discharge records to find sepsis (blood borne infections) and pneumonia cases- specifically excluding community-acquired infections.

They found that the average extra hospital stay from sepsis after an invasive surgery was about 11 days, costs were about $33,000 extra each, and about 20% of the folks who contracted sepsis died.  For pneumonia, the average extra stay was 14 days, cost $46,400, and  11% of patients with pneumonia died.

You can read more in the report and, don’t forget, our final report contains an assessment of infection control activities in AZ and highlights a series of recommendations to improve AZ’s track-record for controlling infections that occur in health care settings.